The Trial

People Zoo bring Franz Kafka’s The Trial to HOME as part of the PUSH Festival.  After successful runs at the Greater Manchester Fringe and the Edinburgh Fringe, this was a production I’d looked forward to seeing.  And in almost every way it didn’t disappoint.

Josef K. awakes on his thirtieth birthday to find he has been arrested for committing a crime that neither he nor anyone else understands.  The Trial follows his fight against the nameless, faceless and complex hierarchy and rules that govern our lives.  Along the way there are key themes of our obsession with sex, status and death.  For the most part this is a very impressive adaptation, and the production creates a wonderfully complex and surreal world that reflects the storyline.  The stage is strewn with furniture, characters appear from every angle and the cast play multiple roles to add to this confusion.

There will always be challenges in such an adaptation and it is inevitable that some parts will succeed better than others.  Some of the updates, such as substituting a rating system for bribes, works surprisingly well.  But there is a scene late on when Josef visits the painter that jars terribly; the spell of the production breaks as we witness violence that seems to serve no purpose whatsoever in developing the story.

But overall this is a wonderful production.  Characterisations are strong and the talented cast create a range of vivid and complex characters that bring this surreal and almost nightmarish work to life.  There is clever set design and very effective lighting.  It’s an ambitious work to take on and in almost every way it succeeds brilliantly.

The Trial is at HOME from 16-18 January 2017.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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